In commemoration of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the British High Commission and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) initiated a crucial roundtable discussion titled “Women on The Frontline: Tackling Gender-Based Violence.” Held on November 28, the event aimed to address the pressing issue of GBV and its escalating rates in Nigeria.
The 16 Days of Activism campaign, spanning from November 25 to December 10, seeks to raise awareness about gender-based violence, coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and culminating on Human Rights Day.
Deputy British High Commissioner, Ms. Gill Atkinson, and USAID Deputy Mission Director, Ms. Sara Werth, orchestrated a panel discussion featuring women-led GBV prevention and response service providers operating across Nigeria. The conversation delved into the challenges posed by the surge in criminality and banditry, contributing to the alarming rise in GBV cases.
Participants included professionals such as a forensic examiner from a sexual assault referral center in Jigawa, a social worker from a women’s shelter in Kaduna, and a legal expert from the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, among others.
Addressing the gathering, USAID Deputy Mission Director, Ms. Sara Werth, outlined the agency’s commitment to strengthening coordination for GBV response. She emphasized USAID’s initiatives to integrate GBV interventions across various programs and collaborate with the Nigerian government and the private sector to address identified programming gaps.
Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, underscored the proximity of gender-based violence to local communities, urging a collective effort to end it. She highlighted the UK government’s commitment to ending GBV, as outlined in their 2023 International Women and Girls Strategy. The UK’s recent support for the Mirabel Centre in Lagos, Nigeria’s first Sexual Assault and Referral Centre, and ongoing programs providing legal advice, psychosocial support, and police investigation training were also emphasized.
Atkinson further highlighted collaborative efforts with the Nigerian government to integrate GBV-related information and services into broader social protection systems. This includes strengthening GBV service directories and training government officials to ensure comprehensive support for victims and survivors.
As the 16 Days of Activism kicked off, the roundtable discussion marked a pivotal moment in acknowledging the urgency of combating gender-based violence and fostering collaborative solutions for a safer and more equitable society.